Here is some advice from a recent OTS grad:
Since some of you will be leaving for OTS not long from now, and some of you will be completely new to the military, please allow me to share a few tips.
First and foremost…. Learn your reporting statements from the OTSMAN. If you only study a single thing before you go, it should be your reporting statements. Know what reporting statement to use when you initiate the conversation vs when an OTS faculty member initiates it. This will make asking questions (and you WILL have questions) a far less painful experience in that first week.
Second….. Be cool. Non-priors had a harder time with this since all priors learned in basic…. They WILL be looking to cause you to panic, they WILL try to stress you out, to scare you, just to see how you react under pressure. They can’t simulate life or death decision type pressure, so they’ll use the only thing they can…. Which is screaming at you and stressing you out. They want to see how you handle it, how you react. They’ll be looking to see if you crack under it, or if you operate well under pressure. When they scream at you, and try to scare you…. do not let them see you stress. In the military, we call this maintaining your “military bearing”. You may find yourself getting screamed at by 4 angry MTIs. They aren’t angry. They are professionals doing a job. They want to stress you out, and they want to cause stress in the other cadets watching… thinking… “I don’t want that to be me”. Don’t react, don’t flinch, and they’ll quickly realize they aren’t going to crack you. They’ll move on, and you may or may not notice that those MTIs no longer try that mess on you again (or to much less extent)… since they know you won’t crack.
The day you show up to OTS…. you will report in civilian clothes. If you want to avoid being the first example of the situation I described above….. Wear a polo shirt, tucked in, pants, and have your shoelaces tucked in. If not, their will be a nice MTI there, who will see you walking from the parking lot a few hundred feet away, and be kind enough to describe such rules to you at the top of his or her lungs.
Non-priors….. don’t button the top button of your ABUs. Just don’t. Also, if you are bringing uniforms with you (vs buying them there) make sure you have the correct blues hat. It’ll have a silver braid. If you have one without the silver braid, or even worse….. it has a solid white line (a general’s cap) then you have the wrong one. Saw both of these happen in my class.
The OTSMAN governs every activity in OTS. That’s actually a great thing. You can go there knowing all the rules. Read into the rules. If it says lights on is no earlier than 0430 and lights out is no later than 1100…… it means just that. If you do not have anything scheduled that day, you can get up as late as 6am (rare) or go to bed as early as 7pm (rare). At first, your class will be afraid to make decisions that make your lives easier, but eventually the class will learn that if it doesn’t break any rules, you can make your lives much better. Just remember to make such decisions AS A CLASS.
While there, EVERYTHING will be standardized. Whether the zipper on your camelback is up or down, will be standardized across all 200 people in your class. What pocket you put your HAWK in will be standardized the same way. If 199 people get it right, but 1 doesn’t….. you have failed to standardize… and you and your leadership all the way to the student wing commander, will be held accountable.
See above. Some of you will be student wing staff (squadron, group, and wing commanders). You will be responsible for setting and enforcing the standards above. Communication is critical, so make it as easy as possible. Do not write yourselves into corners by making stupid rules. If you created the rule, and its so stupid that people screw it up all the time….. guess who gets to answer to both your classmates (who you screwed) and the OTS faculty (who wants to know why your classmates aren’t following your rules)? You.
Shower. It’s sad that I have to say this, but shower. Yes, there will be occasions where you have less than 5 minutes to shower and get into uniform after PT. Guess what tho? That’s 5 minutes to get that nasty stank off so you don’t have to go the rest of your day smelling like a burlap sack of smashed assholes.
Go there able to CRUSH the PT test. If you are worried about failing the PT test when you get there, you are behind the power curve. Fail that first PT test and you (most likely) will be kicked out. They did give people who BARELY failed (1 situp, etc) another chance, but we did lose people to PT that first week of my class.
Do not lie, cheat, or steal. Woe unto the person that does. If you think you won’t get caught by the faculty….. Just remember that there are 200 other people who aren’t going to be willing to lose their career by helping you keep your secret.
Don’t do anything stupid on cellphones or computers. There are cameras everywhere, from the classrooms to the hallways in the dorms. There was a guy who got kicked out for being on the Chive. In the auditorium, there are giant windows behind you that OTS faculty sit behind just watching for people doing stupid stuff on their computers or cellphones.